Strategic leadership team

Practical Action's senior management team, which has executive responsibilities, is called the Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) and it comprises the Chief Executive and twelve Directors, including six Country and Regional Directors.

Practical Action directors

Paul Smith Lomas

Paul Smith Lomas
Chief Executive

Paul Smith Lomas joined Practical Action in 2010 as International Director with responsibility for the overall operation of our global programmes and policy work, and became Chief Executive in November 2015.

Immediately prior to joining Practical Action, Paul was the Regional Director for Oxfam in the Horn, East and Central Africa, where he managed a large programme covering development, campaigning, and emergency response. Prior to that he was Oxfam’s global Humanitarian Director.

He has been a board member of a number of organisations and recently took over as chair of the board of the Start Network of 24 INGOs driving innovation in emergency preparedness.

Paul's professional background is as a mechanical engineer. He worked originally in the water treatment industry in the UK, before going on a VSO assignment in 1985 to Eastern Sudan, where he set up water and sanitation systems for refugee populations from Eritrea & Ethiopia. He then worked with ActionAid in the Nuba Mountains, still focussing on public health engineering with rural communities.

After a short spell in the commercial sector, Paul returned to the voluntary sector in 1991, as Technical Adviser for Oxfam, based in the UK. He was awarded an MBE for services to international development in recognition of his leadership of Oxfam's work responding to the Kosovo crisis.

Paul's blog »

Rachel Hudson

Rachel Hudson
Fundraising, Marketing and Communications Director

Rachel joined Practical Action in January 2016. Previously she was Director of Marketing & Communications for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Prior to that she has worked with DMS a direct marketing agency with clients such as CAFOD, Send a Cow and National Trust, and in marketing roles with a range of other charities, and private sector companies.

John Lockett

John Lockett
Finance Director

Prior to joining Practical Action John spent eight exciting and rewarding years as Head of Finance at WaterAid. Prior to this he worked for various large commercial organisations in financial management, systems development and business analysis roles. He qualified as a chartered management accountant in 1999, holds a degree in economics and a Masters in development economics (South Asia), and is also a keen student of psychology. John has worked and travelled widely in Africa, Asia and South America, spending four years overseas.

Astrid Walker Bourne

Astrid Walker Bourne
Policy and Practice Director

Astrid leads the Practical Action's global advocacy efforts to influence policies and practice of key development stakeholders in the organisation’s focal areas. Main areas of her work include championing of evidence and learning to support the organisation’s knowledge work and developing a strong case for technology justice.

Astrid has been working in the development sector for 20 years, in roles spanning project administration and management of emergency and development projects in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, and Sudan. Prior to joining Practical Action Astrid worked for HelpAge International with a focus on learning, research and policy change. She has an educational background in English Literature, Russian and Agriculture Economics (MA, Giessen University) and a post-graduate development studies qualification from the Centre of Advanced Training in Agriculture (SLE, Humboldt-University Berlin).

Alfonso Carrasco

Alfonso Carrasco
Latin America Director

Alfonso trained as a sociologist, and has held academic posts at universities in Perú and Finland. After his return to Perú he worked as a Consultant for UNESCO, FINNIDA and the IDRC amongst others. He also worked as a regional and urban Planner for INADUR in Lima. In 1989 Alfonso joined Practical Action (then ITDG) as a social scientist, specialising in rural energy, before becoming Regional Director in 1994.

Achyut Luitel

Achyut Luitel
Nepal Director

Achyut is trained as a Civil Engineer and has over two decades of experience in the development sector, including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and Helvetas. During this time he has gained practical knowledge in many different kinds of rural infrastructure programmes.

He was part of the core team involved in the design of DFID's transport and livelihood programme (Rural Access Programme) between 2000 and 2001, leading this team until early 2006 when he joined Practical Action as the Country Director, Nepal in March 2006.

He feels that having the opportunity to work at Practical Action is quite a unique and exciting experience. He likes the people centred approach, using technology to fight poverty. He also feels that Practical Action always offers a learning environment and encourages people to come up with ideas which can change people's lives in a meaningful way.

Hasin Jahan

Hasin Jahan
Bangladesh Director

Hasin joined Practical Action in 2015 as Bangladesh country director, following nine years as programme and policy director at WaterAid Bangladesh. She has specialised work experience in the water and sanitation sector, and has served in Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), the Government of Bangladesh, DANIDA and WSP, the World Bank and helped set up a self-sustained training and research Institute, currently known as the ITN-BUET Centre based in the main Engineering university of Bangladesh.

She is passionate about working for the welfare of disadvantaged people and supports a voluntary charity platform which develops and institutes models for community managed shelters for the poverty stricken elderly people.

Muna Eltahir

Muna Eltahir
Sudan Director

Muna has a long history of experience in the field of development, working with DfID, Netherlands Embassy, UNDP, UNOCHA, ADRA and the Windle Trust.  She also has degrees in Economics and Human Resource Development, and an MSc in International Community Development.

Kudzai Marovanidze

Kudzai Marovanidze
Southern Africa Director

Kudzai has worked for Practical Action for nine years prior to becoming Southern Africa regional director, most recently as Head of Sustainable Agriculture & Livelihoods. A graduate of University of Zimbabwe and Cranfield University in Agriculture, and Land & Water Management, he has also worked for the Zimbabwean Ministry of Agriculture, University of Zimbabwe and CARE.

Yolanda Weldring

Yolanda Weldring
Interim Eastern Africa Director

Yolanda Weldring has many years working experience working in Development Cooperation since 1999 taking leadership roles having actively worked at both regional and global programme and policy areas. She brings in Eastern Africa her wealth of her experience on fundraising, networking, stakeholder influencing where she has lead on mergers in various countries. She is Eastern Africa’s Interim Director, a position she will hold for six months.

Company information

Practical Action is a registered UK charity, no 247257, and a company limited by guarantee and not having share capital (registration no 871954).

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Board of Trustees

Practical Action is governed by a Board of Trustees, who are also Directors of the Company, and responsible for the overall management and control of the Charity.

Trustee profiles


Practical Action was founded, in 1966, as the Intermediate Technology Development Group by radical economist EF Schumacher and a group of like-minded colleagues.

ITDG / Practical Action history and timeline

Contact us

Registered address: Practical Action, The Schumacher Centre, Bourton on Dunsmore, Rugby CV23 9QZ, United Kingdom

Head office: | +44 (0) 1926 634400 | International offices

General enquiries:

For specific technical enquiries, please visit our Technical Enquiry Service

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